Hong Kong flavours and vegan options: New mooncakes you should try this Mid-Autumn festival

  • The traditional treat has been updated to include vegan options and local flavours, such as sweet potato and ginger soup
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Yanni Chow |

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Phoebe’s Kitchen offers both Beef Wellington and salmon-filled mooncakes. Photo: Phoebe’s Kitchen

Nothing says Mid-Autumn Festival quite like mooncakes. These delicious pastries, traditionally filled with sweet and silky-smooth lotus seed paste, are often accompanied by a salted egg yolk, which symbolises the round moon.

Legend has it that mooncakes were even used by revolutionaries way back in 1368 in their bid to overthrow Mongol rule. The story goes that Chinese rebels, led by Zhu Yuanzhang, the man who would one day be emperor of China’s Ming dynasty, hid pieces of paper with secret messages inside the pastries to plan a revolution. Thanks to these notes, they were able to liberate themselves on the night of the Moon Festival.

This seasonal snack is meant to be shared with your family under the moon. In recent years, savvy chefs and entrepreneurs have added their own twists to the treat. Young Post looks at three tasty mooncakes you can try this year.

How to bake your own mooncakes

Hong Kong flavours, Tai On Coffee and Tea Shop

Nico, the head pastry chef at Tai On Coffee and Tea Shop, counts the lantern festival among her favourite holidays.

“The Mid-Autumn Festival has always been a very local collective memory,” she said.

So she decided to infuse those Hong Kong memories into mooncakes, creating flavours like sweet potato and ginger soup, cream corn soup and black sesame glutinous rice ball.

The sweet corn soup flavoured mooncake from Tai On Coffee and Tea Shop. Photo: Handout

“Originally, we thought of more, such as sweet bean curd soup and mango sago pomelo. But after trying the recipes, these three flavours really wowed us,” Nico said. “They say ‘Hong Kong’ without explicitly saying ‘this is Hong Kong’.”

In the two weeks since they launched their new products, the shop has received positive feedback from its customers. In addition, sales have been beyond expectations.

“They [the customers] told us they can tell what flavour it [the mooncake] is when they bite into it and that it felt very local.”

This Mid-Autumn Festival, learn all about the ancient Chinese tradition of writing riddles on lanterns

She hoped that celebrating the festival and eating mooncakes could bring families together.

“Over these last two years, many of our friends and family have chosen to leave Hong Kong. To us, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time of reunion and getting together with family. We want to do something that will make people think about their family, no matter where they are.”

Tai On Coffee and Tea Shop’s black sesame glutinous rice ball flavoured mooncake. Photo: Handout

Mooncake Wellington - Salmon, Phoebe’s Kitchen

For meat lovers, Beef Wellington has always been a delicious delight. That is why Phoebe Chan Ka-yan launched her revolutionary product, Mooncake Wellington, last year while she was a Chinese University of Hong Kong student.

Back by popular demand, the Beef Wellington mooncake returns alongside a new option: the Mooncake Wellington - Salmon. She got the idea from her pescatarian friends, who don’t eat meat except fish.

To cater to seafood lovers and people who don’t eat beef, she replaced the beef with a pink salmon fillet paired with creamed spinach, buffalo mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

The Mooncake Wellington - Salmon is a great option for people who don’t eat beef. Photo: Phoebe’s Kitchen

Having just graduated from university this May, she has decided to devote all her time to her food business.

The 23-year-old hopes to carve out her niche in the traditional mooncake market.

“While Mooncake Wellington is unconventional, it still symbolises the wholeness and harmony of family reunion and bringing loved ones to the dining table when the moon is the brightest and roundest.”

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Vegan mooncakes, Years Hong Kong

If you’re looking for meat-free, dairy-free options, Years has you covered.

The plant-based eatery is a go-to for the city’s vegetarians and vegans. Inspired by a love for animals, they have introduced vegan-friendly mooncakes with no dairy products or preservatives.

“This year, we collaborated with a local Hong Kong-style bakery to produce our mooncakes, which are 100 per cent made in Sham Shui Po,” a spokesperson at Years told Young Post.

The yuzu almond lotus seed paste and chenpi red bean mooncakes from Years. Photo: Years

Each mooncake box set contains two flavours: yuzu almond lotus seed paste and chenpi red bean. Chenpi is sun-dried mandarin orange peel, which is used a lot in traditional medicine and Chinese cooking.

“The yuzu almond lotus seed paste flavour is a brand new creation that aims to add a refreshing, aromatic citrus touch to the palate,” Years said. “Meanwhile, the chenpi red bean flavour is making its comeback, thanks to the positive feedback we received during previous Mid-Autumn Festivals.”

Click here to download a printable worksheet with questions and exercises about this story. Answers are on the second page of the document.

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